I struggle with bitterness.
It’s not an easy thing to admit. I wasn’t sure I was ready to see it in words, and I wrestled with whether or not I should share it, once it was written. It was difficult to admit this failure to myself, and I find it daunting to share it with others.
I have felt bitterness at the easy successes of other children. I have felt bitterness when my child is left out or lagging behind.
It started with the gentle, age-appropriate babbling of my contemporary’s child.
Today, it is the child riding a bike smoothly, effortlessly. The child reading fluently, writing neatly. The child, the same age as mine, clearly surpassing mine in conversation and understanding.
And I feel bitter.
It’s taken me some time to understand this feeling. I’m beginning to realize that this feeling of bitterness comes directly from pain. A small seed of pain that grew into a poison, hardening my heart towards others. It comes from the pain I feel on behalf of my son when he struggles with things that come easily to others.
A few years ago, the bitterness was so prominent in my heart it began to affect my relationships. I couldn’t be around certain people because their success, the perceived easiness of their life, caused me to feel grief and resentment.
As the years have gone by, the strength of this feeling has softened and become less emotionally interrupting. Yet every so often, out of the blue, I feel it creep up again. At the library. Playdates. The park.
In my struggles, I strive to make a concious effort to give this pain to the Savior. He asks for my burden, and this is the burden I give to Him. Only He can take it away, and give me back in return the joy and peace I should feel for others. Only He can erase the bitterness.
Because of Him, I can feel joy that these children and these parents, have these blessings! I can be happy that they can achieve these things without the extra focus and frustration. They are my siblings in spirit, children of the same God, and I can feel happy for them.
I recognize and rejoice in Toby’s strengths. I feel grateful that though we find some things difficult, they are not always impossible. I am thankful for every beautiful step of progress he has made, and for all the people God has put in our lives to help him achieve all that he already has, and all he will continue to.
I also recognize that I may have simplicity and ability where others, including the very people I feel this resentment towards, may not. Realizing this has aided in changing my perspective when these situations arise.
I hope and pray that a day will come when I don’t have to fight this knee-jerk reaction, this natural inclination towards discontent and resentment. That someday, the first feeling I have when I see another child succeed where mine doesn’t, is love and gladness.
I still struggle. Every day.
But the more I trust in the Savior, the more I make a conscious effort to let go of the pain, and open my heart up to the kind of love only the Savior can give, the closer my heart is to being whole again.